What actually is craft chocolate?

Was ist eigentlich Craft Chocolate?

The Craft of Chocolate

The beginning of every chocolate hangs on a cocoa tree. But before the cocoa beans actually make it into your favorite bars, they have a long journey ahead of them. Because cocoa cultivation , farm management and the post-harvest process are not only very complex, but also have a decisive influence on the aromas in the end product. And while this influence is often roasted away in the case of industrial chocolate, the focus for craft chocolate manufacturers is, among other things, on working out these special features in the chocolate. Just as with wine, many aspects such as genetics, terroir and the manufacturing process play a major role in the aroma development of chocolate. To include all of this, craft chocolate makers make their chocolate themselves from bean to bar .

cocoa tree with pod

The "Big Five" of chocolate production

Unfortunately, the "Big Five" does not only exist in the animal kingdom, there are also 5 major manufacturers in chocolate production: Nestlé, Mars, Mondelez/Kraft, Mars and Cadbury (now part of the Mondelez Group). Their power is reflected on the one hand in their global omnipresence, on the other hand in the fact that they control global chocolate production not only on the supermarket shelves, but also in cocoa sales. This means that they have a kind of monopoly on West African cocoa beans in particular. In addition, they often control the conditions under which cocoa beans are grown, harvested, and processed. Unfortunately, this control is by no means positive in terms of fair trade or sustainable cultivation. On the contrary, this control mostly leads to a worsening of the living conditions of the cocoa farmers and encourages child labor . While the production of industrial chocolate is characterized above all by non-transparent supply chains, price wars and low quality at all levels, the situation is very different with craft chocolate.

Craft Chocolate Makers: the revolutionaries in the chocolate industry

The Craft Chocolate manufacturing process begins with the unroasted cocoa bean. It is transparent and obtained directly from the cocoa farmers and processed into chocolate in (comparatively) small quantities. The focus here - in addition to fair procurement - is above all on working out the fine aromas of the cocoa beans. Just like the term 'Bean-to-Bar', the term 'Craft Chocolate' also aims to ensure that the chocolates are carefully processed by hand from the unroasted beans to the finished bar - while maintaining the greatest possible transparency. In order to be able to create the transparency just mentioned, craft chocolate makers usually work with single plantation, single region or single origin cocoa beans. This not only has the advantage that the origin of the chocolate can be traced and fair working conditions can be supported. It is just as important that the best, finest and particularly rare varieties are found and processed. Fine flavor cocoa beans are mostly used here.

craft chocolate

When did the Craft Chocolate Revolution start?

As early as the late 1970s and early 1980s, a slow shift in consumer behavior towards more fairly and transparently traded foods began. First World Shops, GEPA and Fairtrade were just the first known initiatives that dealt with such supply chain issues at an early stage. In this context, the first chocolate manufacturers also started to make their manufacturing practices fairer and more transparent. An important "player" in this context was the chocolate manufacturer Scharffenberger . He started the craft chocolate movement in San Francisco in the late 1990s. In Europe, Zotter and Willie's were among the early supporters of fair and sustainably produced chocolate. The early 2000s finally marked the start of the chocolate revolution. In the USA in particular, many manufacturers felt inspired by Scharffenberger and founded their own craft chocolate factories. The best known are probably TAZA, Askinose, Patric, Amano and many more. From 2010, the bean-to-bar approach spilled over into other countries and since 2015 there have been more manufacturers of fair and fine chocolate from year to year. It is also particularly pleasing that there are more and more 'origin producers', i.e. manufacturers who produce chocolate in the country of origin of the cocoa beans. Exciting examples of this are Kuna , Marou , MIA and Menakao . These manufacturers often even make chocolate themselves from their own cocoa plantations and therefore call themselves 'tree-to-bar' manufacturers. A great example of a very interesting manufacturer is Soklet .

Why You Should Eat Craft Chocolate?

In short: because industrially produced chocolate is bad for people and the environment...and last but not least for your taste buds! For most craft chocolate manufacturers, on the other hand, it is about having a positive impact on people and nature. They try to exclude child labor through direct trade and fair wages and to produce particularly exciting aromas through particularly rare, old varieties and to preserve the varieties by using them and thus support biodiversity.
Are you really interested in craft chocolate? How about a chocolaty team event or company gift ? 100% delicious, fair and sustainable!

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